Golden boy Conor Ferguson has glittering future
Conor Ferguson is a young man thinking big and why not as he is clearly one of the most eye-catching swimming prospects in recent years.
The 13-year-old Larne ASC swimmer made history in the summer when he became the first Ulster swimmer to win three gold medals at the prestigious British Age Group championships in Sheffield.
Not only did the Jordanstown teenager take on and defeat the cream of British swimming, winning gold in the 100m backstroke, 200m back and 200m individual medley, but Conor also grabbed the Ulster junior record (under-17) for the 200m back.
As the swimming season clicks into full swing, the BRA student – already backed by the Mary Peters Trust – is now gunning for more Ulster and Irish success, while long term he is dreaming of one day striding the Olympic stage.
Dad Peter, an official IRFU TMO and citing commissioner and former Swim Ulster president, says Conor's talent was spotted very early when he was a member of the Templemore club.
"Fiona Hillier at Templemore came over to me one day and said that she felt Conor had a lot of potential and to make sure that I gave him every opportunity," said Peter.
"He really loves the sport and he has high hopes for the future. He talks about the Rio Olympics virtually every day and he is quietly hoping that he can do a consideration time for the Commonwealth Games next summer.
"That would be some achievement if he could and long term he is even talking about the 2020 and 2024 Olympics because he wants to go those Games and makes finals and even get medals.
"Of course I am aware that to get to that level takes an awful lot of hard work and sacrifice and there are no guarantees but he has the desire and already he has made a lot of sacrifices.
"It was great for him to get the three golds at the British Age Groups in the summer and now he's looking forward to having a shot at the older swimmers in the Ulster and Irish championships over the next few months.
"The good thing for Conor is that he has a great group of friends at school who are very supportive of him and want him to do well and that all helps.
"We have had a meeting with the Swim Ireland High Performance people and over the coming months they will look at getting Conor into some events where he can represent Ireland."
Larne coach Raymond Skillen currently has a fine crop of young swimmers and another one to watch over the coming years is Danielle Hill, who placed fourth at the British Age Groups in the 100m back and was only 0.03. outside Melanie Nocher's Ulster junior record.